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News State / Region AG Cooper fights robocalls to cell phones

Federal legislation that would allow businesses such as debt collectors to make robocalls to consumers’ cell phones would interrupt people’s privacy and leave them stuck paying for unwanted calls, Attorney General Roy Cooper said recently.

“Robocalls are disruptive and annoying, and consumers shouldn’t have to listen to them if they don’t want to, much less pay for them,” Cooper said.

Cooper joined attorneys general for 53 other states and territories in writing Congress to oppose the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011 [H.R. 3035], calling the proposed law “harmful to consumers.” Under the new law, debt collectors and other businesses would be allowed to place automated, prerecorded calls, commonly known as robocalls, to consumers’ cell phones.

The proposed federal law would make it difficult for North Carolina to enforce its own strict law against robocalls. Under current state law, robocalls are required to identify who is making the call and to first be introduced by a live caller who asks if you’re willing to hear a prerecorded message.

The federal legislation would also narrow the definition of an illegal automatic telephone dialing system, permitting calls that target certain consumers. Because businesses frequently have the wrong contact information, consumers could receive and pay for repeated robocalls that aren’t even intended for them.

Robocalls are also frequently employed by telemarketing fraud rings that seek to steal consumers’ money and personal information.

Currently, federal law allows robocalls to be placed to people who have given their explicit consent to receive them or in case of an emergency. If the law changes, businesses could robocall any consumer who has provided their telephone number, whether or not they’ve asked for the business to contact them.

The proposed federal legislation is currently being considered in the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Citizens can voice their opinion by contacting their U.S. Representative.

To cut down on all unwanted telemarketing calls, consumers can place their home and cell phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry by calling (888) 382- 1222 from the number they wish to register or joining online at www.donotcall.gov. North Carolina consumers who wish to complain about telemarketing calls can file a consumer complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina.





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